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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4%
Worth A Look: 16%
Average: 8%
Pretty Bad: 32%
Total Crap40%

2 reviews, 13 user ratings

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Pink Panther 2, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"a.k.a. "Jacques Clouseau, Gaul Cop"
1 stars

Although the 2006 remake of “The Pink Panther,” in which Steve Martin stepped into the shoes of the late Peter Sellers to portray the eternally klutzy Inspector Jacques Clouseau, largely received scathing reviews from most critics (even as it went on to become a surprising box-office success as, of all things, a family-oriented comedy), I actually gave it a relatively positive review. Of course, I haven’t actually seen the film since it had its press screening and since virtually every memory of it that I may have once held has long since disappeared in order to make room in my mind for pictures of Lily (Allen), I decided to go back to my review of the film in order to rediscover what it was that I liked about it. It turns out that I droned on and on about how I never had that much reverence for the original films in the first place--once you get past the unquestionably hilarious “The Pink Panther” and the flat-out classic “A Shot in the Dark,” they become increasingly tiresome collections of sight gags based around a character who became more of a caricature with each subsequent installment until he finally became more cartoonish than the version of Clouseau seen in the animated title sequences. I also noted my admiration for some inspired bits of slapstick that allowed Martin show off his considerable, though frequently underrated, chops for broad physical comedy. Most significantly, I pointed out that I saw the film at the end of a long and unusually dour day of movie going (even though it appears that I saw the brilliant “Nightwatch” at some point in the schedule) and its cheerfully silliness was just the thing I needed.

Therefore, even though my colleagues have been greeting the notion of the all-but-inevitable “The Pink Panther 2” with the kind of enthusiasm generally reserved for films in which Dane Cook receives top-billing, I went into it with at least a little bit of hope that it might at least provide the same modest levels of entertainment supplied by the original. As it turns out, the film is an increasingly tiresome collection of sight gags based around a character who has become a caricature more cartoonish than the version seen in the animated title sequences and while Martin does get to once again show off his chops for broad physical comedy, they have been filmed in such a clumsy manner that it feels as if Clouseau himself were somehow in charge of the direction and cinematography. The result is a movie that has a couple of big laughs surrounded by long stretches of time in which nothing particularly amusing happens unless the sight of a group of well-known performers squandering their talents in exchange for presumably hefty paychecks strikes you as the apex of contemporary comedy.

As always, any attempt to analyze the plot of a “Pink Panther” film is pretty much an exercise in futility, but I shall sally forth in an attempt to do just that. It seems that an internationally infamous burglar know as The Tornado has been pilfering the world’s most irreplaceable treasures and leaving nothing behind but some broken glass and a calling card. The decision is made to form an elite dream team of investigators from the countries that have already been hit to get to the bottom of the case and since it is assumed that the legendary Pink Panther diamond will be stolen next (because there simply aren’t any other valuable treasures to be found in France), the decision is made to have Clouseau, who has been relegated to traffic duty by apoplectic boss Dreyfuss (John Cleese, replacing Kevin Kline), head up the task force. Right on schedule, the diamond is stolen by Tornado and the inspectors from Italy (Andy Garcia, deploying an accent that almost makes Martin’s seem plausible by comparison), England (Alfred Molina) and Japan (Yuki Matsuzaki) arrive to join Clouseau, his intrepid aide-de-camp Ponton (Jean Reno) and his would-be girlfriend Nicole (Emily Mortimer) in solving the case. They are also joined by Sonia (Aishwarya Rai), an author who has been working on a book on Tornado for years and whose purpose on the team is to transfix viewers with the kind of jaw-dropping beauty that, as I have said before, tends to inspire reactions in people that are rarely seen outside the confines of Tex Avery cartoons.

Of course, the plot of a film like “The Pink Panther 2” is besides the point (especially since the identity of Tornado is hardly ever in doubt)--it exists only to serve as a laundry line for all the gags. Therefore, a movie that moves along such lines lives or dies almost exclusively on the strength of these gags and in the case of this one, it is pretty much on life support from beginning to end. There are a couple of very funny set-pieces that allow Martin to show off some nifty physical shtick--in one, he does battle with an enormous wine rack in an ultra-chic restaurant that turns into an amusing bottle-flying melee and there is a great bit in which we silently regard him from the vantage point of security cameras as he tries to infiltrate the palatial home of a known art fence (Jeremy Irons in a cameo appearance) that works because it has been staged with a refreshing degree of restraint. On the other hand, other extended sequences go on and on without ever generating much in the way of laughs--a long bit in which Clouseau and his cohorts investigate a robbery at the Vatican is a huge disappointment and the big climax in which the Tornado is unmasked and chased down is a total dud.

As a presumed sop to fans of the original movies, the film throws in a tribute to those incredibly destructive kung-fu battles that Clouseau and manservant Kato used to indulge in but since Clouseau’s opponents are a couple of adorable little kids instead of Burt Kwouk (don’t ask), the results are more sad than silly. Speaking of sad, the film even brings in Lily Tomlin as a decorum expert assigned to teach political correctness to the crudely idiotic Clouseau. Now the idea of Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin appearing together in a series of scenes in which the former tries to educate the latter on matters of political correctness may sound like a comedic slam dunk, these sequences inspire not a single laugh as far as I can recall in one of the most scandalous wastes of a promising comedic premise in a long time.

“The Pink Panther 2” is an exercise in sheer laziness from virtually all of its key participants--it looks ugly (even the beauty of Aishwarya Rai comes dangerously close to being reduced to nothing thanks to the crude efforts of cinematographer Denis Crossan and director Harald Zwart), it moves at a glacial pace and most of the actors are content to cruise through on autopilot (even though he is supposed to be playing the chief of the French police, Cleese doesn’t even bother to attempt an accent). Like the previous film, it is a pointless, money-grubbing attempt to exploit a familiar property but this time around, it just doesn’t contain enough laughs to distract you from that knowledge. In what is arguably the funniest moment in the film, a French newspaper reports on Clouseau’s latest blunder with a headline stating “Entire Country Loses Panache.” My guess is that after audiences get a load of “The Pink Panther 2” this weekend, Monday’s edition of “Variety” will have a similar headline.

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originally posted: 02/06/09 16:00:00
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User Comments

3/29/13 daniel(mumbai) It was ok...... I liked the twist in the last lol.... 3 stars
8/08/10 lily my fiance proposed to me after this film, its really special to me and i love it! 4 stars
8/31/09 mr.mike I'm rating it as a cable pay-per-view attraction. 3 stars
8/03/09 David A. not side-splittingly funny, but a good-natured humor runs through it. Martin is charming. 4 stars
6/27/09 film critic I actually enjoyed this film. I was expecting worst, but it exceeded my expectations. 5 stars
3/22/09 james obrien thought it was great 4 stars
2/15/09 Pokejedservo To me it was a rather funny movie, I know I'm in the minority here but still... 4 stars
2/15/09 Anthony Feor Same jokes. Same Storyline. Steve Martin delivers chuckles but very few in this film. 2 stars
2/12/09 Ming Steve Martin is just not funny anymore...using the same old jokes 2 stars
2/10/09 Brian Why, Steve? Why? Maybe a return to standup? He and Eddie Murphy both. 1 stars
2/09/09 Aesop C'est merde. 1 stars
2/09/09 filibuster fred lol. thiswas so shit. 1 stars
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  06-Feb-2009 (PG)
  DVD: 23-Jun-2009


  DVD: 23-Jun-2009

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